Grieving for Guy, the Kiwi Combat Engineer Killed in Gaza

From Lake Kinneret to Lake Taupo, friends and relatives mourn death of Guy Boyland, who followed a long family military tradition.

Gil Eliyahu

SYDNEY, Australia – Guy Boyland hailed from a rural lakeside community on New Zealand’s north island that is not so far removed from Kibbutz Ginosar in Israel, where he was raised. But it is a far cry from the Gaza Strip, where Boyland, a 21-year-old decorated combat engineer in the Israel Defense Forces 7th Armored Brigade, was killed last Friday in a firefight with Hamas.

As Staff Sergeant Boyland was laid to rest Sunday in the cemetery of the kibbutz on Lake Kinneret, back in New Zealand, on the shores of Lake Taupo in the Waikato region, his extended family was also grieving the loss of the ginger-haired, guitar-playing boy who spent the first five years of his life there.

His 90-year-old grandfather, Jim Boyland, said his “very patriotic” grandson had followed a great military tradition on both sides of the family.

Jim Boyland joined the New Zealand Navy as a 15-year-old in 1940 and served for 12 years, fighting in Korea. Guy’s uncle, Brett – who travelled from Perth, Australia, to Israel on Sunday to be with his grieving brother Glenn – said he served in Australia’s elite SAS unit for some 25 years.

Jim Boyland also noted that Guy’s maternal grandfather was a former police chief in Israel who fought in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“I was very proud of the boy and I’m glad he did what he did,” he told Haaretz on Monday. “We are all very proud of him; we were very worried when he wanted to join the bomb squad, and that’s how he died.

“He was very gregarious,” he added. “He never knew what life was all about, he never lived like an ordinary child. But he was very patriotic and wanted to be in the bomb squad.”

His grandfather said that Guy, who was just four months away from finishing his IDF service, had only returned to New Zealand once after leaving ־ about three years ago, just before he was inducted.

Jim Boyland said his entire, large extended Kiwi family ־ he has seven children, about 35 grandchildren and “20-odd great-grandchildren” from two marriages – was mourning their loss.

“Guy was a funny sort of lad, he tended to be a bit stand-offish to begin with but was actually very gregarious. They had a band at the kibbutz and he used to play the guitar and was quite a ladies’ man,” he said.

Glenn and Adva, Guy's parents, met in Taupo in the late 1990s; Adva was working at the Wairakei Resort Hotel while Glenn was the green keeper at the adjacent golf course. They got married at that same resort and left for Israel about 15 years ago, settling on Ginosar.

“Glenn is absolutely shattered,” Jim Boyland said. “He was his life, his son. His whole future was wrapped around him.

“Guy was very patriotic,” he added. “As they [Guy and his sister Kim] grew up on the kibbutz they became Israelis, they spoke Hebrew, their mother was Jewish ... Glenn was thinking about coming back but they were looking after Adva’s sister, who is reliant on them ... They won’t leave their son behind, they’re committed to staying there in Israel.”

A Facebook page was established in memory of Guy Boyland this weekend. “We deeply appreciate the love and concern that help to shed a fraction of light upon these dark times,” wrote Kim, who served in the Israeli Air Force, on her page. “Thank you so much.”